Zoolumination shines light on Chinese culture, art

The Lotus Pond Achway is a symbol for the people's survival on November 15, 2019. (Veronica Prigmore / MTSU Sidelines)

Story and Photos by Veronica Prigmore

Zoolumination, a Chinese lantern festival, took place Friday November 15, at the Nashville Zoo.

Zoolumination is the largest light festival in the United States, and aims to share Chinese culture with zoo-goers. As visitors entered the lantern festival, the atmosphere faded into a world of mystical wonders. The exhibits that held exotic animals were replaced with vibrant detail-oriented lanterns to look at instead. The sounds of peaceful Chinese music echoed throughout the diem pathways.  

The lanterns were shaped into various decorative exotic animals, mythical creatures and plant designs. The visitors enjoyed authentic Chinese food and browsed handcrafted merchandise from vendors.  

Zigong, China is internationally known for its lantern craftsmanship and artistic design. The Zigong Lantern Group helped create the illuminated silk lanterns seen across Nashville’s Zoo.

An illuminated information board educated visitors about the lantern displays. A massive 214-foot dragon glowed vibrant colors of orange and red lights; visitors took pictures with the breathtaking display. The Chinese Dragon was the center of the attractions at the Zoolumination lantern festival. The information board explained that the dragon is “one of the national animals of China.” 

 At the Lotus Pond Archway, water lily-shaped lanterns hovered over the pathway. The green and indigo colored lanterns created an underwater atmosphere.  The information board read, “the artist lifted the lotus above the visitor’s head to create a fresh, elegant and creative pathway.” 

The pink flamingo lagoon was another popular highlight. The flamingos played in the small pond as the visitors admired their beauty. This was the only animal exhibit that had a lantern displayed on the other side of the pond.

 Visitors watched the large Mandarin duck lanterns float over the pond. The vibrant lantern lights created a dreamy illusion in the water’s reflection. Mandarin ducks are known as a symbol of affection and love between husband and wife.

Children attendees were thrilled to see the North Pole Village. The winter wonderland included Santa’s workshop, Christmas lights and reindeer shaped in colorful lantern lights. The children were excited to take pictures with Santa at the end of the lantern display.

After the walk around the 60-acre venue, the visitors watched a traditional Chinese show. Acrobats juggled, twirled and balanced across the performance stage. Everyone was shocked when one acrobat performer completed a headstand on top of her partner’s head without any hands. The visitors were amazed to see the acrobats perform backbends and impressive contortions. In the magical act, a performer wore a Sichuan opera mask with embroidered traditional Chinese clothing. The red, clownlike mask changed faces while the performer distracted the visitors with strange robotic movements. When the show ended, the visitors continued to observe the decorative lanterns into the night. 

To contact Lifestyles Editor Brandon Black, email lifestyles@mtsusidelines.com.

For more updates, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter at @Sidelines_Life.


To contact Lifestyles Editor Brandon Black, email lifestyles@mtsusidelines.com.

For more updates, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter at @Sidelines_Life.

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